Body Odor in Children

Updated March 23, 2017

Children occasionally have body odour even when they bathe regularly. It is not typically a cause for concern. As children start to mature and go into puberty, body odour can increase. Bacteria lives on the skin and interacts with skin oils causing odour. However, if body odour is persistent despite good hygiene, it can be an indicator of medical conditions, NetWellness reports.


A condition called adrenarche in children includes body odour as a symptom. Adrenarche is the onset of puberty. The child begins to show signs of puberty at a young age--before 8 in girls and 14 in boys, in general. Typically, this condition has other symptoms such as axillary and pubic hair growth, height and weight changes as well as breast development. Adrenarche can affect proper bone development and can stop growth prematurely.


There are other reasons for unusual body odour in young children, although they are rare. One example is Phenylketonuria. With this condition, a gene that is necessary to break down the amino acid phenylalanine is mutated. Although amino acids build protein, excessive amounts of phenylalanine create health issues that can be mild to severe. A musty smell in the children's skin, urine or breath is only one of many symptoms, which include skin rashes, hyperactivity, mental retardation, stunted growth, microcephaly (small head) or seizures, according to Everyday Health.


Gigantism is a condition where the body creates too much growth hormone. Bone growth can create a rapid increase in height. Although there can be several causes, typically, gigantism is caused by a benign tumour in the pituitary gland. This condition is very rare. Symptoms include increased sweating which can cause body odour. However, more prominent symptoms include delayed puberty, weakness, headaches, vision problems, prominent jaw development, thick fingers and toes, irregular periods and breast milk leakage, according to The New York Times Health Guide.


If a child's body odour increases or is combined with other symptoms, seek medical attention. Conditions such as gigantism and adrenarche need to be diagnosed early to provide the best treatment for the child.


If a child's body odour is not caused by a medical condition, there are several ways to reduce body odour. Using anti-bacterial soap helps remove the bacteria from the skin that causes odour. Benzoyl peroxide, rubbing alcohol, witch hazel and hydrogen peroxide also help fight the bacteria. Antiperspirants, which stop perspiration, can also be used, although they can irritate a child's skin. Deodorants eliminate the smell but do not stop perspiration.

The website Bad Body Odor recommends encouraging the child to bathe daily to reduce the bacteria present on the skin. Also make sure that after bathing, the child thoroughly dries areas like the arm pits, genital area and feet. After drying, have the child use baking soda or cornstarch, as both powders absorb odour. Wear fresh socks everyday. Wear natural fibre clothing such as cotton. Ensure the child is eating a healthy diet as toxins in the body can cause a bad odour.

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About the Author

Debbie McRill went from managing a Texas Department of Criminal Justice office to working for Compaq and Hewlett-Packard as a technical writer and project manager in 1997. Debbie has also owned her own businesses and understands both corporate and small business challenges. Her background includes Six Sigma training, and an Information Development career with journalism and creative writing as her passion.